By Daniel Hunter

Deloitte’s Social Innovation Pioneers programme has today been recognised by the Prime Minister’s Big Society Awards 2013 for supporting social enterprises across the UK.

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in 2010 to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities.

The recognition comes as the firm published the findings of an independent evaluation of its Social Innovation Pioneers programme. The report from Social Enterprise UK, commissioned by Deloitte, rated the programme as excellent and found it to be delivering clear growth for the social businesses taking part.

Last year, Deloitte selected 30 social businesses from across the UK, ranging in sector and turnover. It provides selected Pioneers with an intensive 12-month package of support using Deloitte’s skills and expertise to provide tangible support to their core business.

Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive at Social Enterprise UK says: “The title of the report, Breaking New Ground, demonstrates the degree to which we believe the Deloitte approach to engaging with the social enterprise sector has been successful. This is not Corporate Social Responsibility, this is Deloitte doing what they do best — using their skills and expertise to be a catalyst for growth across this dynamic sector.”

The report shows that, on average across the 12-month period, turnover of the Pioneers increased by 45%, and 83% increased employment, equating to 80 full-time and 41 part-time roles. The social businesses say there is strong evidence that the programme is helping them grow and increase their social impact. Almost nine out of 10 (86%) of the Pioneers rated the programme as excellent, while 100% would recommend participation to their peers.

In comparison to the wider market, the rate of growth exceeds the average for the social enterprise sector (38%) and is far higher than the 29% growth seen by UK SMEs.

The report also highlights that nine of the first 30 Pioneers have either entered a supply chain agreement or partnership directly with Deloitte. The firm expects the number of social enterprises in its supply chain and the volume of services provided to increase year on year and is now encouraging its own suppliers to consider their individual social impact.

David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive at Deloitte, said: “The Social Enterprise UK evaluation is a great insight into how the Pioneers programme has been managed throughout its first year. We pride ourselves on being a business that uses expertise and insight to support a range of clients, ensuring their projects are on track to deliver the expected business benefits. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we have been able to transition those skills to help the social enterprise sector.

“Having spent time with some of the Social Innovation Pioneers over the last year I am extremely pleased with Social Enterprise UK’s findings and am immensely proud of the impact the programme has had in such a short time, both in terms of the growth of the Pioneers and the involvement of our people.”

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